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What Is a Pickleball Made Of?

by Pickleball Superstore February 21, 2024

A close up of a pickleball on a court.

Whether you're a pickleball pro or just starting out, have you ever stopped to ask: What is a pickleball made of?

You may just think it’s a simple plastic sphere, but it’s much more than that. The materials and construction are specifically created for top-notch performance.

Let’s peel back the layers and find out what makes a pickleball special.

What Are Pickleballs Made Of?

Pickleballs, or pickleball balls, are typically made from a hard type of plastic called polyethylene. This material is selected for its durability and resilience. However, pickleball material does depend on indoor or outdoor play.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: These use a slightly softer plastic, like polypropylene, for better control on smooth gym floors. They’re perfect for precise volleys and softer touches.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: These have tougher shells of harder plastic to withstand the demands of asphalt or concrete courts. They're more resilient to wear and tear and have a faster, livelier bounce for outdoor rallies.

Aside from the material, there are construction secrets that affect the pickleball’s flight, bounce, and overall behavior.

  • The Hollow Core: This ingenious design helps achieve the perfect balance of weight and flight. Too heavy, and they'll become lead balloons; too light, and they'll flutter in the wind. The ball's size and thickness are carefully calibrated to create a lively bounce while maintaining control.
  • The Holes: Those holes aren't just for looks. They play a crucial role in aerodynamics and stability. Indoor balls usually have fewer, larger holes (around 26) for improved control on smooth surfaces. Outdoor balls have more, smaller holes (around 40) to reduce wind resistance and achieve a faster, more accurate flight.
  • The Weight: According to USA Pickleball (USAPA), the ball needs to weigh between 0.78oz and 0.935oz. Indoor balls usually weigh less, offering controlled volleys and gentle touches. Outdoor balls are a bit heavier, giving more power for longer rallies and aggressive play.
  • Quality Check: Don't overlook the importance of a well-made pickleball. The USAPA sets strict standards for official tournament balls, ensuring consistent weight, bounce, and hole size. When picking your gear, look for the USAPA approval stamp for top-notch performance.

How Are Pickleballs Made?

Two main methods are used in pickleball manufacturing:

  • Rotational Molding: Plastic is poured into a mold, which slowly spins until it sets. Afterward, holes are drilled in. This process results in slightly faster balls with a longer lifespan.
  • Injection Molding: Molten plastic is poured over two halves of a mold and then fused. This method produces bouncier balls at a more affordable price.

Doubles team playing pickleball.

The Difference Between Pickleballs and Wiffle Balls

Pickleballs and wiffle balls look similar, but they serve distinct purposes in the world of sports.

As we now know, the type of ball used in pickleball is made from a harder plastic. Wiffle balls are constructed with a lighter, softer plastic, prioritizing fun over performance.

When it comes to design, pickleballs have evenly spaced holes across the surface. They’re strategically positioned to reduce air resistance during play. On the other hand, wiffle balls have holes on one side only, leading to unpredictable, slower flight.

Another big difference is their performance power. Pickleballs are designed for faster speed and better bounce. They’re made for competitive play and aggressive rallies. Wiffle balls focus on slower play, ideal for casual games and backyard fun.

Overall, pickleballs and wiffle balls each fulfill unique needs. Technically, you can use a pickleball as a wiffle ball, but performance (weight, bounce) might be different. It's all about picking the right tool for your desired game

Beyond the Bounce

The materials of the pickleball offer insights into the game's intricacies. It can really deepen our appreciation for the sport and the craftsmanship.

Remember, the perfect pickleball ball is a personal choice. Experiment with indoor and outdoor varieties. Explore different materials and weights and discover the one that matches your playing style and court environment.

Most importantly, have fun! Pickleball is all about enjoying the game, the competition, and the camaraderie. So grab your paddle, choose your champion ball, and step onto the court with newfound confidence.

Find the perfect pickleball ball for your next game today.

Pickleball Superstore
Pickleball Superstore